Judgement reserved in Maroga compensation claim

Judgement was reserved on Wednesday in former Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga’s court attempt to get an R85-million payout from Eskom for firing him.

At the end of the two-and-a-half day case, lawyers wrapped up their arguments in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg in a dispute relating to whether Maroga had resigned before he was fired last year.

Earlier, the court heard that Maroga could not be reinstated because he had insulted Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan in court papers he filed in support of the R85-million payout for unlawful dismissal, and thus the relationship of trust had broken down.

In papers filed two months after his sacking last November, amid a dispute over whether he had resigned, Maroga accused Hogan of colluding with Eskom’s board to say he had in fact stepped down.

Hogan’s counsel, Karel Tip, said the minister was not at the meeting on October 28 when Maroga said he could not agree with chairperson Bobby Godsell and opted to resign in an “elegant and amicable” manner. She was also not involved on October 30 when the board said it accepted his resignation.

Hogan only came into the picture later, when she and her deputy, Enoch Godongwana, met Maroga to try to resolve the dispute because of the important role of the power utility.

However, in papers lodged with the court in January to challenge his sacking, Maroga accused her of colluding with the board and acting unethically by saying he had resigned, the court heard.

As the CEO was Eskom’s nerve centre, a relationship of trust between Hogan and Maroga was essential. Maroga set out to speak in the “most derogatory” way about the board and Hogan in court papers, Tip said.

These comments were not made on the spur of the moment, but two months after the dispute.

Maroga isolated Parliament and the public and deliberately withheld facts at the time of the controversy.
He acted unethically, was biased, “and so it goes on”, said Tip.

“These are not statements that a Cabinet minister can tolerate ... He said the relationship of confidence and trust had broken down.”

Maroga is hoping to get an R85-million settlement for his contract ending before 2011 as expected.—Sapa

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